The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman say that an elderly man’s stepdaughter “was not allowed to spend proper time” with him before he died because Rotherham Council “decided at face value she was a risk, following a safeguarding referral”.
According to the ombudsman, the man in question, known as Mr P, had dementia and had been cared for in his home for five years by Miss X, who considered Mr P to be her step-father.
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A statement from the ombudsman said that after a hospital stay, social workers decided the man should be moved to a care home because of concerns for his safety between care calls.
The council received information that the stepdaughter and her mother, Mrs Y, described by the ombudsman as a “close friend of Mr P”, were “trying to stop the man from going to the care home as they believed he was better off in his own home”.
“The council told the hospital and the care home not to disclose any information about the man to Miss X and Mrs Y, because of safeguarding concerns. The care home spoke to Miss X and told her police would be called if they tried to visit,” added the ombudsman’s statement.
“Some days later, when she tried to find out why she had been stopped from seeing him, Miss X discovered her stepfather was on end-of-life care.”
“The next day the council allowed the stepdaughter and her mother to have 30-minute supervised visits. Three days later the man died.”
The ombudsman added that the council “did not consider whether it was appropriate to consult with the women about the man’s care”.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “I’m pleased the council has agreed to my recommendations and hope it will take a more open-minded view when making decisions about families’ circumstances in future.”
RMBC agreed to apologise to the women and pay them £600 each for the distress and uncertainty caused.
Rotherham Council’s chief executive, Sharon Kemp, said that the council has provided its “sincerest apologies for the distress suffered as a result of the way in which we dealt with the issues that those involved raised at what was a particularly difficult time”.
“We recognise the distress caused.
“The council strives to do our best to make sure that we deliver the best service possible to those we serve. We are sorry that we fell short of what those involved had a right to expect and what we expect of ourselves.
“We understand that as well as the apology those involved will want to be reassured that their experience improves services for others.
“The Ombudsman has provided the Council with clear actions to undertake. We have added to this, produced an action plan and are on track towards completion.
“This will be reported to our audit committee on April 12 to enable councillors to monitor implementation and oversee the improvements.”